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When the owner of a building intends to carry out work covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the owner of an adjoining building has the right to request security from the owner planning the work where this involves a risk to their property. This is so even if carrying out the work does not necessitate accessing the adjoining owner’s land or property, following a High Court ruling.
The case involved building owner Mathew Lawrence, who wished to carry out various works on his property, and neighbour Geoffrey Kaye, the owner of the adjoining property. In June 2009, Mr Lawrence issued a notice under the Act to Mr Kaye stating that he intended to build within three and six metres of Mr Kaye’s property and listing the work that was planned.
Mr Kaye raised objections to the work via his surveyor and an independent surveyor was appointed in order to resolve the dispute, as required by the Act. The independent surveyor ruled on three matters under dispute, two of which were resolved. The third, relating to the lodging of security, was not.
Mr Kaye had requested security from Mr Lawrence against any potential damage to Mr Kaye’s property. The surveyor ruled that security would not be required as the planned building works did not include any work on Mr Kaye’s property. Mr Kaye disputed this ruling.
During the ensuing High Court hearing, it was argued by counsel for Mr Lawrence that the provisions of the Act that allow for the payment of security against damage did not apply unless the work planned included work on the adjoining property. In this case, the planned work would be at least three metres away.
However, the judge held that there was nothing in the Act that drew a distinction between work on or away from the adjoining property. The court ruled that the independent surveyor was wrong to say that security could not be requested and ordered the findings of the surveyor to be changed accordingly.
It will now be left to the parties’ respective surveyors to agree an appropriate amount of insurance cover for the risk of damage to Mr Kaye’s property.
“Any building work close to another property must be carefully planned so as to manage the risk of damage to the adjoining property,” says Mark Brown of DFA Law. “It is advisable to take professional advice before proceeding.”